Police: Group tricked man, tied him up, left him to die

Court papers detail the plot to tie Michael Boone, 46, to a tree in Everett. He froze to death.

EVERETT — For days, an Everett man kept in touch with police from a phone that was stolen from a homeless man, who had been beaten, tied up and left to die in the cold, according to police reports filed in court.

Detectives believe a different man, Matthew McGowan, 26, bound Michael Boone’s wrists to a tree, with a white woven belt at a homeless camp in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, in a forested corner of a cemetery.

The man who ended up with the phone, Darron Weidman, 40, had set up a deal with Boone, where Boone would pay up to $200 to sleep with Donita Burkley, 33. Police believe the group planned to trick Boone into paying for a hotel room by stringing him along.

All four — Boone, Burkley, McGowan and Weidman — went to an ATM around 2 a.m. Jan. 1, to see if Boone actually had cash, according to police reports. He didn’t have enough money in his account, but he asked the woman to come to his camp anyway, in the woods about 100 yards off of 41st Street.

Police believe the group of three improvised a plan to rob Boone, 46. Burkley agreed to go along with him, “to get rid of him,” according to what she told police. She reportedly told Weidman to grab a knife. But he went back to his tent, got high and did not bring the weapon, according to Weidman.

At his camp, Boone gave Burkley his jacket to sit on. In one story she told police, she was kissing him when McGowan rushed from behind, attacked Boone with a stick and choked him until he passed out. In another version she told police after her arrest, Boone was trying to convince her to stay, when McGowan rushed in, hit Boone and choked him until it looked like he’d pass out. Boone was saying sorry and begging for his life, she recalled. McGowan took off Boone’s clothes and used the belt to tie him, according to Burkley’s report. That morning it was near freezing.

Burkley and McGowan went to Weidman’s camp with things they’d stolen, the court papers say. McGowan kept the wallet and debit card, and offered Boone’s beanie to Weidman, according to Burkley’s report. Weidman took the stolen phone. Forensic data showed he logged into his personal accounts on the phone around 4 a.m., less than two hours after Boone’s last balance inquiry at the ATM, according to Everett police reports.

Boone’s body was found on the afternoon of Jan. 4. He was on his back, naked except for an undershirt, underwear and one sock. He’d died of hypothermia, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office. His wrists were bound, over his head. Police believe he tried to free himself, but couldn’t. The death was classified as homicide.

Weidman used Boone’s phone to call police, set up interviews and give his side of the story. Police seized the phone and found it still held Boone’s data and profiles.

All three suspects were arrested Thursday.

In court, prosecutors argued if Weidman helped plan the robbery, and if he’d taken the spoils of the crime, he should be held in jail for investigation of first-degree robbery. Everett District Court Judge Tam Bui found probable cause and set bail at $500,000.

Bail was set at $1 million for the other defendants. They’re accused of second-degree murder.

McGowan’s public defender, Tom Cox, argued the state’s case against his client was based only on statements from co-defendants, who are “admitted junkies.” McGowan, who was convicted of first-degree child rape as a juvenile, failed to register as a sex offender in 2017. He was sentenced to a month in jail. He has served time for bail jumping, burglary and drug crimes.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

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